Only a few months after the slightly underwhelming “Dumb Dumb”, Jeon Somi returns with (finally) her first album and the titular “XOXO”. The music video is a continuation of “Dumb Dumb”, wherein good girl Somi finally gets to be with her dream guy. Unfortunately, her happy ending was only momentary when her boyfriend cheats on her. In “XOXO”, Somi transforms into a mad and vengeful girlfriend who simply won’t accept “I’m sorry” for an apology.
The music video is linear: Somi’s various acts of vengeance on the boy she once loved. Somi learns about her boyfriend’s cheating ways from her friends. She numerously tries to contact him (whose caller ID is “Good Boy”) but doesn’t pick up. She heads over to his house, wrecks it, and smashes his car.
The boyfriend makes an attempt to escape with his broken car, but Somi and her girl friends chase him down the highway. As if a scene from a “Fast and the Furious” movie, Somi times an explosion that makes her boyfriend’s car flip through the air and crashes upside down. Tied and beaten, Somi begins her series of torture of her once boyfriend, which includes playing a game of tag and hitting him with tennis balls. The video ends with a cliffhanger, hinting at a third and probably final music video if Somi and her boyfriend will get back together.
Mostly filmed “outdoors” and in bright colors, “XOXO” is a juxtaposition of the hurt she feels. The fashion is straight out of a late ‘90s to early 2000s teen movie—candy-colored bead accessories, graphic t-shirts, and punk rock boots. The aesthetics also pay homage to some popular acts in the ‘90s and early 2000s such as Gwen Stefani, Kesha, and Avril Lavigne. The styling plays a significant meaning, particularly through the brightly-colored faux fur coats. While the coats conceal the hurt she feels inside, she is walking away confidently and taking herself back.
Don’t you dare say you’re my better half
My other half is now mine
Don’t call me a bad girl
Your new girl is the one who’s bad
As THEBLACKLABEL remains a subsidiary of YG Entertainment, the influence of the latter, especially of Black Pink’s, is undeniable. Somi sings the iconic line from Jennie’s “Solo”. The sledgehammer to the car and the blue tool dress take inspiration from Lisa’s “Lalisa” and Rosé’s “On the Ground” respectively. Of course, let’s not forget about YG’s resident producer, Teddy.
Working with the same music video director of “Dumb Dumb”, the dance sequences are sparse to put more emphasis on the storyline. The choreography in the chorus is simple and cute with the arms crossed to form an X and instead of an O, the hands form a heart.
On a more critical note, getting back at a cheating boyfriend is relatable, but the depiction of violence and torture in the music video could be uncomfortable for some. After the car chase scene, Somi and her girl friends walk over with guns in their hands. The boyfriend also is dumped inside the car trunk and is lifted by a grapple excavator. Ultimately, Somi blows the place up where her boyfriend is held captive. Somi’s wrath pierces through the screen. Also unlike in “Dumb Dumb”, wherein we see the face of the boyfriend most of the time, we see him covered with a bunny-dog head. The bunny represents the boyfriend being a player and he is reduced to being a dog (much like calling a woman derogatorily a “bitch”). Domestic violence is a serious matter. To trivialize it even in a fictitious or imaginative dark humor is disturbing.
Since her venture as a solo artist, Somi has been successful in integrating signature beauty and charm amidst the plethora of girl crush concepts. With “XOXO”, she sheds off her sweet image and goes full-on badass. What is a bit worrisome, however, is the next step to carve out a distinguishable identity both conceptually and musically. She has done exceptionally well in “What You Waiting For”, and her recent releases seem to be three steps back. She’s getting to be just like everybody: a concept and a song that another group can do and an attempt to fit into the Western crossover mold. Nevertheless, “XOXO” shows a darker side of Somi. Hopefully, next time though without the heavy-handed violence.